Transforming Strata Careers: Moving to Professionalisation of Strata Management

An Original Essay by Anna MacMaster Winner of the SCA (Qld) 2022 Essay Award

What makes strata management a desirable career for individuals? How did today’s successful strata managers make the decision to enter this ever-changing career? Why is there a shortage of suitable candidates when there are so many features of the role of a strata manager that are preferable to comparable roles in similar fields?

After speaking to many current and former managers about their choice of career as a strata manager, the most common reason by far is “by accident… I fell into it”. This is a surprising response, considering how rewarding and challenging the role of a strata professional is. It appears that many of those in the strata management field did not make a conscious, considered choice to become professional managers of strata schemes, but ultimately were glad they did, and are doing it extremely well. Are we a profession filled with accidental practitioners?? And why is this the case?

A key challenge facing strata management business owners is a genuine lack of a pool of newcomers who wish to embark on a career as a strata management professional that is, people from all walks of life, young, part way through their working lives or with years of experience in other fields behind them, making a conscious choice to make strata management their long-term career. After working in a related field for many years and observing the work of strata managers, the legislation they operated under, and the work of the SCA and the ‘Commissioner’s Office’, I made the conscious decision to launch my career in strata management. After refining my skills in a well-established strata business, I’m now the business owner of a small portfolio of strata schemes, with plans for steady growth based primarily on referrals from clients that have become advocates for my service. My only regret is not starting my strata management career sooner. Why are more people not aware of the incredible rewards of a role in strata management, and making the choice to kick start their strata career?

Strata management in Queensland is an attractive career option. It’s a mix of client engagement combined with a never-ending variety of interesting scenarios to challenge the mind and make the working days fly. We meet fascinating people and see some of the most unique properties in Queensland. We’re constantly learning, and we have the opportunity to grow as professionals, build our portfolios and have the satisfaction and privilege of helping schemes through some of the most complex situations. Ignoring those non-tangible benefits, the salary, even for an entry level assistant manager, is often more attractive than that offered to property managers within real estate offices. There is rarely weekend or after hours work unless you choose to, and there are clear regulations to guide you. What’s not to love?

Given all this, how can we promote the benefits of a career in strata management to a wider pool of future professionals?

Firstly, the key to recognising a career role as a profession (and therefore a specific and desirable career goal for newcomers and career-changers) is the formal training or qualification required to enter that profession. Most recognisable professions require substantial tertiary education to enter the field, plus ongoing professional development, teamed with recognition from a professional representative body (such as the CPA accreditation for accountants). At the more accessible end of the scale, there are professions which offer entry by way of vocational training (such as a Certificate IV or Diploma level qualification), teamed with a Government-issued licence or registration to undertake that role (for example the structure that exists within the real estate profession for real estate salespeople and our ‘distant cousins’ property managers). How does strata management fit into such a structure?

The advocacy work by the SCA and leading strata professionals to explore options for licensing for strata management has a multi-faceted approach to the issue. Licensing recognises the role as important to consumers and clients, and acknowledges the impact of poor quality operators in the field, thereby aiming to mitigate the risk by enforcing entry-level qualifications and selection criteria for practitioners. Often licensing systems

mandate additional ongoing professional development to maintain licensing annually (i.e ongoing learning and development to maintain skills and knowledge). Licensing, rather than discouraging newcomers to the profession, formalises the career choice made by individuals, ensures they have adequate entry-level training to perform their role, and allows the licence holder an element of recognition and pride in their status as a member of the profession.

Further, the work of the SCA in recent years in establishing an accreditation structure for the recognition of strata professionals, teamed with a robust continuing professional development requirement, has been a significant step towards professionalisation. Further, annual awards that highlight the achievements, dedication and effort of those who have reached the pinnacle of their award category serve to shine a light on best practice within strata.

When newcomers or those considering entering the field are ‘on the outside looking in’, they can see from the work of the SCA and from leading strata professionals that Queensland’s strata managers are striving for excellence in their practices, in their client service, and in their businesses. The positive stories of ‘career strata managers’ need to be shared, and newcomers must be welcomed, encouraged and supported with ongoing training and mentoring, and excellence in strata celebrated.

Strata management is a skilled career – a profession, and one that requires a set of attributes that can be hard to find in one person. But it’s not a unique skill set – there are many other fields which provide elements of the skills, knowledge and experience which are vital in the strata management world. Our challenge is to make strata management a career of choice for those looking for a rewarding, fascinating, long-term career.

We work in exciting times – Strata management in Queensland is transforming and growing into a profession, through the work of a dedicated group of individuals, supported by many strata professionals standing with them.

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